Webster's new World Dictionary, Concise Edition (1960) lying open on a desk

Chicanery: Wednesday Words

Today’s word shows up occasionally these days, but I’d never taken the time to actually look it up.

When I stumbled over “chicanery” reading a book published in the early 1950s, it seemed the right time to discover its definition!

Chicanery: attractive, clever speech meant to deceive others.

Old Time Chicanery

Chicanery is found numerous times in the pages between Genesis 3 and Revelation.

The serpent used persuasive but deceptive words to trick Eve in the garden.

Both Abraham and Isaac introduced their wives as their sisters out of fear for their own safety.

Jael sweetly offered Sisera a place to hide in her tent before killing him with a tent peg to the head.

The list of human chicanery examples throughout biblical history goes on and on.

If you haven’t ever tried it, you might like reading the Bible even if only for its suspense and intrigue!

Discovering so many instances of sweet-talking trickery in the Bible, it’s a wonder we’re shocked when we see it used today.

Modern Chicanery

We often see this word tied to politicians and their goal of getting into or staying in office. Everything on their agenda is breathtakingly wonderful, while the other party’s agenda obviously came straight from the darkest abyss.

Many folks try to get more than their fair share through smiling trickery full of flattery.

We even use chicanery to paint ourselves in the best possible light, hiding our shortcomings behind a smiling facade of perfection.

But if we discover the truth about someone else’s chicanery, the world had better beware! We hop straight on the warpath to right those wrongs.

How blind we can be.

Authenticity over Chicanery

Jesus had a few things to say about how we look at others.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Matthew 7:1-5 NLT

The Pharisees wanted everyone to see them as wonderfully pious, but Jesus had other thoughts.

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Matthew 23:27-28

Ouch.

It seems to me we need to focus more on bringing our own flaws to Jesus and asking for his help to overcome them than judging others for their imperfections.

“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians 4:21-27

When we truly see ourselves as we are, sufficient in some aspects and completely immature in other areas, we can more easily share grace and mercy with others. Let us see each other as works in progress!


Check out my Wednesday Words vocabulary expansion project, and join in the fun!

Write a post using the word “chicanery,” then leave a link to your post in the comments below. I’d love to read what you write!

2 thoughts on “Chicanery: Wednesday Words”

  1. Somehow, I always felt the word chicanery was related to the term shenanigans. Although, I think some people, who are using the latter term today, think of it as an innocent way of fooling around.

    Liked by 1 person

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